A lot of people have been coming to me to talk about xAPI lately (right, obviously… this is my job.) Anyway, a good number of them have a specific interest in badges. They want to give people badges as symbol of completion or accomplishment. They signify the end of something that matters.

If you haven’t heard of it already, Mozilla has a great project called the Open Badges Initiative. Their goal is to develop a specification for badges and infrastructure to support badges across systems. They’re doing this with the community, as an open source effort. They, much like xAPI fans, want to liberate badges from the silos they keep getting locked in to.
When most people think about badges, boy scouts come to mind. We have a few boy scouts here at Rustici, feel free to guess who. In boy scouts you earn a badge as a symbol of an accomplishment for doing a selection of activities. Picture this wood carving badge in a digital world of badges.

Wood Carving Badge Image

In Open Badges there are three players:

1. Issuers

The issuer defines what the badge is, what it takes to earn a badge, and sends the badge to the earner’s backpack. The boy scouts are the issuer of the badge, they have decided what a person has to do to earn this.

2. Earners

Earners do activities that earn badges, which are stored in ‘backpacks’. The backpack is where issuers send a badge when it has been earned. The scout must complete the following activities to receive the badge, imagine these as xAPI statements.

Wood Carving requirements

1.  Show that you know first aid for injuries or illnesses that could occur while wood carving, including minor cuts and scratches and splinters.

2.  Do the following:

    • Earn the Totin’ Chip recognition.
    • Discuss with your merit badge counselor your understanding of the Safety Checklist for Carving.

3.  Do the following:

    • Explain to your counselor, orally or in writing, the care and use of five types of tools that you may use in a carving project.
    • Tell your counselor how to care for and use several types of sharpening devices, then demonstrate that you know how to use these devices.

4.  Using a piece of scrap wood or a project on which you are working, show your merit badge counselor that you know how to do the following:

    • Paring cut
    • Basic cut and push cut
    • Score line
    • Stop cut

5.  Tell why different woods are used for different projects. Explain why you chose the type of wood you did for your projects in requirements 6 and 7.

6.  Plan your own or select a project from the Wood Carving merit badge pamphlet and complete a simple carving in the round.

7.  Complete a simple low-relief OR a chip carving project.

When all of these requirements are complete, the scout gets the badge. Yay for Billy!

3. Displayers

The displayers retrieve badges from backpacks and show them in interesting places, like on social networks, profiles, etc. Traditionally this badge is sewn onto clothing, online it resides in a ‘backpack’ where it can be retrieved and shown many places.
I love it when puzzle pieces fit together, xAPI statements as building blocks to a badge that shows a greater accomplishment. Tell me, where do you have collections of activities that prove an accomplishment? Accomplishments that need to be recognized and shown to others.